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Parents of Teens

College Admissions Night

posted Sep 20, 2012, 7:16 AM by Maria Geueke

Location: Turners Falls High-School Auditorium 
Date: Tuesday October 2nd
Time: 6pm

For information on; 
- Current college admission trends
- Stages of the college admissions process
- College entrance tests
- Preparing for the essay, interview, and campus visit
- Financial aid basics
- MEFA's free resources for families

For more information, see your school counselor or visit

Parent Handbook For Talking With Teens About Alcohol

posted Sep 15, 2012, 8:12 AM by Maria Geueke   [ updated Sep 15, 2012, 8:31 AM ]

Being a parent is intensely rewarding, but also deeply challenging. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have issued a handbook for parents about talking with teens about alcohol. The teen brain focuses on what's happening right now. When a teen thinks ahead, it usually means he or she is wondering about what to do this weekend, not next year. That's why your son or daughter isn't terribly concerned about the future. This puts teens at a disadvantage when they face choices about risky behaviors that can have long-term consequences, such as drinking.

Facts and tips from MADD's handbook:
1. Most teens say their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.
2. The changes teens go through affect how they think about alcohol.
3. By focusing on obedience, authoritarian parents lose their ability to influence their teen through reasoned discussion or to help them develop good thinking skills.
4. Parents Do Make a Difference. Despite how you may feel sometimes, research shows that parents are an important influence on whether or not teens chose to drink alcohol.
5. Positive parenting is generally the most effective parenting style.
6. Teens do care about their parent's opinions. They especially respond well to a positive parenting style.
7. Suspend your critical judgement while you listen attentively. This is probably the single most important aspect of good communication.
8. We have parents who teach basic family values, like honesty and responsibility, but never discuss alcohol directly with their kids.
9. Emphasize to teens how quickly drinking can lead to dangerous results. That's why you take underage drinking so seriously.
10. Speak with respect and appreciation and choose a good time. Don't do it when the other person is rushed or has a commitment elsewhere.

To learn more about talking to your teen about alcohol and to read the full handbook, click here.

Underage drinking and it's affect on a teen's brain development.

posted Sep 15, 2012, 7:48 AM by Maria Geueke

New research shows that alcohol affects a developing teen brain differently from an adult brain. Alcohol use may impair memory, learning, decision-making and impulse control; and it greatly increases the risk of addiction. Research sh
ows that parents generally underestimate the extent of teen drinking and its negative consequences. To be alcohol-free, a teen needs the active involvement and help of a parent.
Click here for information about everything from parental influence on use of alcohol to proven skills to prevent underage drinking.

Talk to your Teen about Alcohol

posted Sep 14, 2012, 9:34 AM by Maria Geueke

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a helpful resource called Make A Difference, for talking to your teen about alcohol. The guidebook includes everything from information about the risks of alcohol consumption to warning signs of a drinking problem.

"With so many drugs available to young people these days, you may wonder, 'Why develop a booklet about helping kids avoid alcohol?' Alcohol is a drug, as surely as cocaine and marijuana are. It’s also illegal to drink under the age of 21. And it’s dangerous. Kids who drink are more likely to: Be victims of violent crime. Have serious problems in school. Be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes. This guide is geared to parents and guardians of young people ages 10 to 14. Keep in mind that the suggestions on the following pages are just that—suggestions."

From Make A Difference;
Some ways to build a strong, supportive bond with your child:
  • Establish open communication 
  • Show you care
In talking with your teen about alcohol, include:
  • Your child's views about alcohol - Ask your young teen what he or she knows about alcohol and what he or she thinks about teen drinking.
  • Important Facts about alcohol- Share some important facts about alcohol with your teen and go over the myths that your teen might have about alcohol.

For the full guidebook and more information, click here.

Parents of Teens’ Friends Can Influence Substance Use According to New Research

posted Jul 3, 2012, 9:57 AM by Corey Haynes

The parents of teenagers’ friends can have as much effect on teens’ decisions about substance use as their own parents, a new study suggests.

If the parents of a teenager’s friends are not aware of their own child’s alcohol or drug use, or condone it, then it is more likely the teen will drink or smoke, the study found.

“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect — if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances, study author Michael Cleveland at Penn State University, said in a news release. “But if you belong to a friendship group whose parents are inconsistent, and your parents are consistent, you’re still more likely to use alcohol.

The study included 9,000 ninth graders, who were asked about their closest friends, their parents’ discipline, and whether their parents knew who their friends were, HealthDay reports. The researchers broke the teens down into about 900 groups of friends. A year later, the teens were surveyed about their substance use.

The researchers found substance use in tenth grade was significantly related to parenting behavior of friends’ parents. This was true even after taking into account the effects of the teenagers’ own parents’ behaviors, and their friends’ substance use.

“I think that it empowers parents to know that not only can they have an influence on their own children, but they can also have a positive influence on their children’s friends as well, said Cleveland. “And that by acting together — the notion of ‘it takes a village’ — can actually result in better outcomes for adolescents.

The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Source: Join Together at The Partnership

3 Ways to Address Teenage Motivation to Drink that Don’t Involve Scare Tactics

posted May 8, 2012, 7:40 AM by Corey Haynes

When someone – including a teenager – gets treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, it is standard practice to identify some of the reasons why they started using and the benefits they feel they get from these substances. This helps them reduce shame and best identify their triggers and areas to focus on. Among the research, most reasons for using alcohol fall into a few broad categories such as mood or personality enhancement, social reasons, and coping reasons. Reviewing personal motivations for using alcohol is often an “ah-ha” experience for the person seeking help but it needs to be handled with care as there is the potential in such a discussion to make alcohol use seem more appealing.

Nowhere is this concern greater than when attempting to prevent alcohol use in teens as many parents have a justified fear that such a discussion will promote alcohol use in kids who may not have otherwise been aware of the potential short-term “benefits” of alcohol. This fear has often caused parents and caregivers to avoid the topic, focus only on the consequences of drinking or minimize the reasons why people drink – especially with younger children. While reinforcing the consequences of underage drinking is always recommended, understanding teen’s motivations can also be useful to parents as a point for both prevention and early intervention of teenage drinking. Below are a few tips on using teen motivations to intervene and connect with your children.

A useful strategy is to ask teens about what they “expect” to get from drinking. Along with perceived risk, your teen’s alcohol use can be predicted by the expectation that one will feel a certain way when they drink. These expectations are reinforced by the media and by your teen’s peers. Expectations are essentially motivating (I want to relax and I will drink because I expect that it will help me relax). The first step is to identify what your teens think about drinking’s benefits or what drinking may give them. If you can identify the reasons they think people drink (or they drink), it is a point of intervention.

Tailor Your Strategy: Based on the motivations or expectations your teen mentions reports there are several options to continue the conversation.

1. Identify myths about the effects of alcohol: Teens may think that alcohol will help them achieve a particular outcome when in fact the opposite is true in the research. For example, if a teen says he drinks to relax, you can counter that alcohol only has temporary relaxing qualities (and only in moderation) and drinking actually reduces sleep quality which then causes stress. When teens understand that alcohol in fact may not actually give them what they want – they might think twice about drinking for a specific reason.

2. Once you have identified your child’s reason for drinking, encourage him or her to find other activities that will achieve the same outcome without alcohol. This is called “counter conditioning.” So using the above example you can identify other ways that are significantly more effective than alcohol in helping them relax (e.g. exercise, music, yoga). This is important because you will be teaching your teen a valuable coping skill that might prevent them from developing problems later on in life.

3. Lastly, point out that much of the “effect” they get from alcohol is simply based on what they expect they will get when they drink. This is especially effective for the “I want to have fun” motivation. My favorite way to talk about this is to discuss the numerous experiments done on placebo alcohol – yes – that’s right, studies where there was fake beer or tonic water alone and people thought it was actual alcohol. Individuals in these studies reported everything from being more social/sexual to being more confident to even having memory loss. In other words – you get what you expect. So simply being primed and thinking positively will give you what you need without the alcohol. These results are not unique to alcohol either – the placebo effect whether it be through fake surgery or a pill is extremely powerful. Studies even show that people who receive placebos have actual changes in their brain chemistry based simply on the expectation that they are getting what they need to achieve their goals. More importantly, some studies also reveal that people taking a placebo attribute their changes to themselves and not an external substance.

What I have found when I discuss alcohol motivations with teens is that they appreciate hearing a more rounded view of drinking. Teens are smart – they understand that people drink for a reason and if we ignore the reasons for drinking we are going to lose credibility with our teens. Discussions about expectancies and motivation typically also bring up much broader discussions of internal vs. external control. When I was working with college students who were referred to me for binge or excessive drinking – I would ask them to “pretend” they were drunk the next time they went to a party. It was a powerful experience for them to just hold a tonic water and pretend that it was a real drink. It helped them recognize the internal power they have over their actions and to feel more confident and secure. When teens begin to realize that they are in control of their actions they can begin to master the world around them to achieve their goals without a pill or drink.

Start The Conversation!

posted Mar 16, 2012, 8:29 AM by Corey Haynes   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 8:33 AM ]

Nearly 8,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 start drinking each day in the U.S. and most of them receive alcohol from parents, friends, and older siblings.

As a community, let’s begin the conversation about the effects of underage drinking. Areas of discussion could include: 

  • How large of a problem is alcohol use by underage youth in your community? 
  • How easy is it for youth to obtain alcohol in your community? 
  • Where do youth in your community access alcohol? 
  • If you learned that your teen planned to attend a friend’s party where alcohol was going to be available or served, what would you do? 
  • Do you know parents who host parties where alcohol is available or served to teens? 
  • If parents knew about the laws and consequences of providing alcohol to teens, would it prevent them from hosting teen parties where alcohol is served? 
  • What community-wide strategies can be implemented to reduce underage drinking in your community? 

To be continued…at the Partnership meeting March 28th and at the Community Awards Celebration April 25th.

Parental Youth Recognition - It's Important and Easy To Do!

posted Jan 10, 2012, 10:51 AM by Corey Haynes

Parents: Catch Your Child Being Good

  • Positive words from parents help kids stay positive.
  • Having responsibilities in the home helps young people to feel valued. Jobs like washing dishes, picking up their rooms, and helping to make dinner tell your children that you think they are capable and important.
  • Setting clear expectations and rules makes family life easier and kids need to hear when they are doing a good job of meeting your expectations.
  • When young people are rebelling against their parents, it is still important to tell them what they are doing well.
  • Even noticing a small improvement can make a big difference in your child's attitude and behavior.
  • Children need to know that adults notice their successes.
  • Young people who are encouraged are more likely to do more good things!

5 Sentences Kids Want to Hear:
  1. Great Job! 
  2. We’re so proud of you!
  3. You’re amazing! 
  4. That’s a great improvement!
  5. You make a difference in our town!
10 Easy Ways to Appreciate Young People

  1. Post things on the refrigerator (awards, good grades, art work, encouragement, anything positive!).
  2. Tell them “I love you” and “I'm proud of you”. You cannot say these too often!
  3. Ask how their day was.
  4. Listen.
  5. Brag about them to friends and family (when your child can hear it!)
  6. Turn off the TV and eat meals together as a family as often as possible.
  7. Ask teachers about your child's strengths at school. Then, tell your child what the teacher said and how proud it makes you feel.
  8. Be involved in activities with your child.
  9. Reward your child for being good. (Rewards don't have to cost money. Use your imagination!).
  10. Slip a note that says “I'm proud of you” or other message into their backpack.

Every Youth Wants to Be Appreciated!

Brought to you by the Community Coalition for Teens and the Communities That Care Coalition.The Communities That Care Coalition’s Youth Recognition Workgroup promotes recognition for positive youth involvement in families, schools and communities.

For More Information Contact Ruth Ever at (413) 586-9225.

Community Youth Recognition - It's Important And Easy To Do!

posted Jan 10, 2012, 10:42 AM by Corey Haynes

Young People Make Us Proud!

  • Offering jobs and volunteer opportunities tell our youth that we think they are capable and important.
  • Let’s show youth that we notice their successes.
  • Clear community expectations and rules help youth make positive decisions. Let’s get youth involved in changing our communities for the better!
  • Often youth who achieve great things in out-of-school times are not the same youth who shine during school hours.
  • Community groups like youth centers, faith groups, after school and volunteer programs allow youth to thrive in many exciting ways.
  • Young people who are encouraged to participate in their community are more likely to make more positive choices.
  • Remember the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Our parents hated our hair,music and clothes and we turned out “pretty good!”
  • Recognizing the achievements of our youth helps strengthen our community.

5 Sentences Kids Want to Hear:
  1. Great Job! 
  2. We’re so proud of you!
  3. You’re amazing! 
  4. That’s a great improvement!
  5. You make a difference in our town!
Easy Ways to Appreciate Young People
  • Greet young people in public. Make eye contact. Greet them by name if possible.
  • Help establish a Youth Wall of Fame in your business, town, school or faith community.
  • Any time a youth wins an award, or is in the newspaper, it goes up on the Wall of Fame.
  • Ask for youth participation in planning community events. Give stipends or tokens of appreciation for their help (movie passes, gift certificates, etc.). Be creative!
  • Notify the press about any youth achievements or involvement in the community.
  • Notify schools and parents/guardians about youth achievements in the community.
  • Invite them to any events celebrating youth.
  • Join with other businesses, community groups or government agencies to host a youth recognition ceremony. Give small awards to as many youth as possible.
  • If you employ young people, institute a “Youth Employee of the Month” recognition.
  • If you do not employ youth consider “hiring” youth interns to learn about your business.
  • Ask your town officials to annually and formally recognize the positive contributions of youth.

Every Youth Wants to Be Appreciated!

Brought to you by the Community Coalition for Teens and the Communities That Care Coalition.The Communities That Care Coalition’s Youth Recognition Workgroup promotes recognition for positive youth involvement in families, schools and communities.

For More Information Contact Rachel Stoler at (413) 774-1194 x 116

Shout Out! Above the Influence - Helping Teens Stand Up To Negative Pressure

posted Jan 10, 2012, 10:09 AM by Corey Haynes   [ updated Jan 10, 2012, 10:13 AM ]

“Above the Influence, a Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, is inspired by what teens have told us about their lives, and how they deal with the influences that shape their decisions.

Every teen's life is filled with pressure, some of it good, some of it bad. Our goal is to help teens stand up to negative pressures, or influences. The more aware you are of the influences around you, the better prepared you will be to face them, including the pressure to use drugs, pills, and alcohol. We're not telling you how to live your life, but we are giving you another perspective and the latest facts. You need to make your own smart decisions. We want teens to live Above the Influence.”

Shout Out! Above the Influence at Turners Falls High School is transitioning into the next part of the project, Expressions! Now that the youth have expressed what negative influences they are above, we are going to explore what keeps them that way. Expressions will let students really express what things in their lives keep them above the influence in an artistic way! Keep an eye out for the upcoming Expressions art! 

For more information, contact Emily Shea,

Community Projects and Events Specialist
Community Action Youth Programs
154 Federal St, Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone: (413)774-7028 x7
Fax: (413)774-7565
*Building Youth, Building Community*

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